The Mobile Symphony Orchestra unveils the latest in its American Masters series with a nod to a composer whose strains helped define the essence of an American sound. Few artists quantified the national cultural heritage in so regal a fashion.

Aaron Copland was born in Brooklyn to Lithuanian-American Jews and grew up above the family’s shop. He inherited musical aptitude from his mother and at age 11 had devised his first works. The young man studied under the same instructor as George Gershwin and went on to Paris to continue his education.
Copland returned to America during the Jazz Age and was influenced by Alfred Stieglitz’s beliefs that he should be working to encapsulate “the ideas of American democracy” in his art. His travels during the Great Depression further clarified his search for this signature sound.

What emerged was a “vernacular” style that implemented components of folk music, jazz idioms and open harmonies evocative of the America’s cultural history and its vast landscape. It was enough to land him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts and a special Congressional Gold Medal.

The MSO program includes “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Appalachian Spring,” and “Billy the Kid” among other works. Featured soloist for the show is John Craig Barker.

The Jan. 17 show begins at 8 p.m. The Sunday matinee is at 2:30 p.m. Both shows are at the Mobile Saenger Theatre, 6 S. Joachim St.
Admission is $20 to $100. Students K through college admitted for $10.
For more info, call 251-432-2010.